The librarycook tried.  Repeatedly.  But nothing in the March issue of Delicious was speaking to her. It wasn’t that some of the recipes didn’t look good, they just seemed like not-very-different versions of ones she already makes. What was she to do? How could she meet her contractual obligation to produce a monthly, food-based blogpost?

Luckily, March also saw the arrival of Belinda Jeffery’s 2007 book, Mix and Bake.  The librarycook is a confirmed fan of Ms Jeffery’s, with several of her recipes on regular rotation, so the arrival of a whole book was like Christmas. Why not, thought the librarycook, do something a little different this month, and report back on a cookbook, rather than focusing on the current issue of Delicious?  Even better, the blogpost would almost write itself, seeing as her two favourite Jeffery recipes were included.

So, what did she cook?  First, the new and untried, and the librarycook thought, why not make something sweet?  Hard though it was to make a choice, in the end it was the Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread that was to be first cab off the rank. And a speedy cab it was too, thanks to the marvel that is the food processor.  And its C:R*?  Excellent – 20 minutes in the fridge, followed by 45 in the oven – more than enough time for a few chapters of Debra Oswald’s The Family Doctor. The resulting shortbread is delicious – buttery, crisp, and, of course, chocolatey.

A little confession now.  The librarycook didn’t actually make either of the next two recipes in the last few weeks.  But both are regularly served in the librarycook’s household, and both are thoroughly relished. In no particular order, then, let’s turn our attention to the pie that’s not a pie – the Zucchini, Feta and Dill Pie. Regular readers may be aware of the librarycook’s dislike of dill, but thankfully, Ms Jeffery is on top of that.  She proposes replacing the dill with either mint or basil, and when the librarycook is offered this choice, basil is always going to be the winner.  Essentially a frittata, the so-called pie is made by combining grated zucchini, parmesan, feta, eggs and herbs, topped with cherry tomatoes, and baked in the oven – for 40 glorious minutes of unfettered reading time.

And the other perennial favourite is another pie that isn’t – the Upside-Down Tomato and Basil “Pie” – really an upside down savoury cake which combines fresh and canned tomatoes, cheddar, parmesan, eggs, Tabasco, and basil.  Perhaps 15 minutes of work, followed by half an hour or so in the oven, again, more than enough time for a chapter or two.

More than likely, the librarycook will be back on course next month, barely able to decide between the no doubt mouth-watering offerings of the April issue of Delicious, but at least for the time being she’s pleased to have been able to venture off piste into the library’s excellent cookery section, and for once, to be able to share the recipes to her devoted readership.

Zucchini, Feta, Dill Pie :

Upside-down Tomato Pie :

Really extremely good Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread :

*Cooking to Reading ratio – the shorter the time for cooking, and the longer the time for reading, the better!


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